The Worldview and Practices of the Occult – The Means to Power

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2002
The methods of the occultist are pragmatic: use whatever is effective in securing the desired end. That’s why even the radical dissolution of the personality is considered vital for occult advancement.

The Worldview and Practices of the Occult
The Means to Power: Radical Dissolution of the Personality

The methods of the occultist are pragmatic: to use whatever is effective in securing the desired end. Here the temporary destruction of normal life and perceptions—of time, rea­son, and normal consciousness—is vital. The importance of this is emphasized in almost any serious text on the occult. For example, the Hindu guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh taught that the one who desires true occult enlightenment must become, at least for a time, “a perfect Zombie.” He identified this as a temporary state of catalepsy or idiocy and stressed its necessity “because it will destroy the past…. Your memory, your ego, your identity—all has to go.” [1] Thus, “That’s why a real disciple passes through a kind of insanity around a master.” [2]

Another occult “master” teaches that the logical purpose of occult practice is to destroy “the separate self-sense and… the viewpoint of conventional cognition and perception.” [3] In other words, “When the mind has been driven insane, it stops… and suddenly a new consciousness emerges.” [4] Altered states of consciousness, leading to total detachment and “abandonment” of the personality are principal methods for enlightenment and can be induced by drugs, sex, transfer of occult power, ritual possession, meditation, intense concentration, insanity, human sacrifice, and many other means.

For example, in the agonies of shaman initiation, “The suffering has annihilated all former characteristics of the individual.” [5] In the case of alleged UFO abductions, “Many who have had such initiations feel that they have ceased to exist.” [6] Over and over we read that the old personality and consciousness are said to have died, “never to rise again.” But if the old person has really “died” in occult practice, what now takes its place? Characteristi­cally, it is a possessing spirit.

For example, the research of Tal Brooke in Riders of the Cosmic Circuit offers a detailed examination and critique of Eastern metaphysics, including the altered states of conscious­ness found in the meditative disciplines of endless numbers of gurus. It reveals that altered states of consciousness are typically the means to spirit contact and possession. Consider again the late Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the influential Indian guru. His early experiences on the road to “enlightenment” brought him temporary insanity, possession, and almost killed him. Through intense absorption into various altered states of consciousness, the personality of the old Rajneesh literally and completely disappeared. In fact, it was perma­nently replaced by a new consciousness that was entirely alien. The new personality re­calls, “The one who died, died totally; nothing of him has remained… not even a shadow. It died totally, utterly…. Another being, absolutely new, not connected at all with the old, started to exist.” Rajneesh had become possessed by a “new consciousness,” a living personality that directed his mind and body from that day forward. [7]

Consider another illustration in the text Occult Psychology by Kabbalistic occultist Alta J. La Dage. This book correlates Jungian psychology to Kabbalistic practice and other forms of occultism. Given Jung’s occult involvement and the occult potential of many of his psy­chological theories, this is not surprising. [8]

At one point La Dage discusses the possibility of death or insanity along the path of enlightenment. He begins by discussing the dangers of premature entry of the conscious­ness to the depths of “nirvana” at the stage known as “Kether” according to the symbolic “tree of life” in Kabbalism:

Should the human mind become open to this depth prematurely it would merely result in insanity or death…. There is a great danger of loss of body or mind at this critical state. Whether or not this is “bad” can really only be answered by a person who has experienced it, and he isn’t around to tell us! [9]

La Dage proceeds to comment upon the massive nature of the ensuing personality change, something reminiscent of the characteristically advanced possession states among the major Hindu and Buddhist gurus: [10]

Union with Kether is the Seventh Death referred to in the Cosmic Doctrine…. The personality change is so great anyway, that even his closest friends would not recognize him were it not that physically he looks the same as before the event…. In such an experience we are dealing with a psychic “explosion” wherein force and form unite. Generally form (body) has to give (“you cannot put new wine in old bottles”) and in some cases recorded in old Alchemical texts we find that he force of the experience incinerated the body. [11]

We are also told that an encounter with “even the slightest registry of this depth” of Kether (also called “the abyss”) “causes one to lose interest in life below the abyss and it takes considerable will to make a return.” [12]

Significantly, La Dage observes what other commentators have noted: Many people today experience such occult initiations “spontaneously” (as, for example, in what is termed yogic kundalini arousal).

Each abyss or crossing represents a major shift in consciousness. In ancient times (and in modern occult lodges) these events were called Initiations. Today, such initiations can happen “automatically” to people who know nothing of the Western Mystery Tradition, and they are diagnosed by medical men and are even experience by the patient as nervous breakdowns or temporary psychosis. [13]

In La Dage’s view, such ordinary psychologists have a problem here. These are the “unenlightened” therapists who are ignorant of the truth of what is occurring. As a result, they misdiagnose the phenomena of enlightenment as symptoms of mental illness. This is the reason behind his call for the integration of psychology and Western mystical-occult traditions, and his purpose in showing how Jung can be profitably utilized in this endeavor. Significantly, however, we discover that once these states are experienced, they tend to be permanent and reinforce the need to maintain them, much like drugs. Indeed, even to return to normal life is to ask for pain and sickness:

An ordinary psychiatrist will interpret one of these recapitulations as an ordinary run of the mill neurosis, and may try to adjust the person “back” to his previous level of functioning, when in fact the impulse of the Self is to transcend the old state. These are the casualties of our age of ignorance, the Ira Vugari as Crowley called it. If the person can be “adjusted” back to his previous level of functioning, then contrary to psychology’s belief that he is “cured,” the bottom will have fallen out of that person’s life…. Furthermore, the next time he comes undone he is going to be in a far worse condition than he was the first time. If we live below or above our basic state, as I have heard my teacher say at least a hundred times, we can expect to be ill. [14]

The real problem, however, is one of dabbling in a forbidden, demonic area, one which frequently induces demonization and carries its own set of consequences. As noted philosopher and theologian Dr. John W. Montgomery observes of many young people today:

They seek another kind of answer—an answer perhaps hidden in the Subjective depths of their own souls. But what key will unlock this hidden treasure? Some go the whole experiential route: sex, drugs, masochism, satanic occultism. Others seek salvation in the inward-focused Eastern religions. But the path of drugs and the occult is strewn with the wrecked lives of those who have given themselves to these false gods. And, as Arthur Koestler has so definitively shown in the account of his frustrating pilgrimage in search of Eastern wisdom, the ambiguities of the Tantristic religions open them to the most immoral, destructive, and demonic possibilities. [15]


  1. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, “God Is a Christ in a Christ,” Sannyas, No. 3 (May/Jun. 1978), p. 11.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Bubba Free John, Garbage and the Goddess (Lower Lake, CA: The Dawn Horse Press, 1974), pp. 310-311.
  4. Rajneesh, quoted in the editorial, Sannyas, No. 5, (Sep.-Oct. 1978), p. 3.
  5. Holger Kalweit, “When Insanity Is a Blessing: The Message of Shamanism,” in Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof, eds., Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1989), p. 85.
  6. Keith Thompson, “The UFO Encounter Experience As a Crisis of Transformation” in Grof and Grof, Spiritual Emergency, p. 131.
  7. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, The Discipline of Transcendence: Discoveries on the Forty-Two Sutras of the Buddha, Vol. 2 (Poona, India: Rajneesh Foundation International, 1978), pp. 313-314.
  8. Alta J. La Dage, Occult Psychology: A Comparison of Jungian Psychology and the Modern Qabalah (St. Paul, MN: Ewellyn Publications, 1978); Carl Jung, Psychology and the Occult (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977)
  9. La Dage, Occult Psychology, p. 162.
  10. For Hinduism see Tal Brooke, Riders of the Cosmic Circuit (Batavia, IL: Lion, 1986). For Bud­dhism see John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999)
  11. La Dage, Occult Psychology, p. 162.
  12. Ibid., p. 161.
  13. Ibid., pp. 163-164.
  14. Ibid., p. 164.
  15. John Warwick Montgomery, “The Apologists of Eucatastrophe” in John Warwick Montgomery, ed., Myth Allegory and Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany 1974), p. 20; cf. Arthur Koester, The Lotus and the Robot (New York: Macmillan, 1961), esp. pp. 236-241, 268-275.

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